Echocardiography has proved to be quite useful in the detection of pericardial effusion. As little as 15 ml of fluid within the pericardial space can be detected. Specific signs of pericardial effusion, such as electrical alternans and paradoxical pulse, have become better understood by echocardiographic study. Yet, with all the benefits of echocardiography, the detection of pericardial effusion still may be quite difficult if careful attention is not given to technique. False-positive diagnosis of anterior pericardial effusion can be seen with epicardial fat pad, pericardial cyst, or foramen of Morgagni hernia. False-positive posterior pericardial effusion can be seen in large left pleural effusion, calcified mitral anulus, or excessively medial transducer angulation. New "switched-gain" circuits have helped detection of pericardial effusion by enhancement of pericardial echoes.
(Arch Intern Med 138:622-625, 1978)